The whereabouts of Goddess Sita’s birth are not lucid. As per Valmiki’s Ramayana, she was found in a furrow in a ploughed field. Precisely for the same reason, Sita is also regarded as the daughter of the earth goddess, Bhūmi. Janaka, the king of Mithila found her in the field. He and his wife Sunaina adopted and raised her. There is no clarity on Sita’s parents. How was she born and who were her parents are questions which have not been eloquently answered anywhere. All my childhood I was so engrossed in the courage and valour of God Rama that I never cared about the birth of Sita until I read Asura. And not in my wildest dream I thought it would have anything to do with Ravana.
According to the book, Asura, Sita was Ravana’s daughter. It made me cringe at various levels. I was on a google search spree around this new trivia. It then dawned upon me that there are various interpretations around the Sita-Ravana relationship. Let me take you through all of them because I am a kind soul. And also because I can’t seem to contain the edifying search results:
Sita: Reincarnation of Vedavati:
Vedavati was a Brahmin woman and Ravana violated her. Vedavati later immolated herself and declared to come back later for revenge in her next birth. It is believed that Vedavati was reborn as Sita and eventually became the reason for Ravana’s destruction. Having said this, there is no detail on Sita’s birth here, how she was reincarnated and how she reached the field is still a mystery.
As per Uttara Purana
According to Uttara Purana, Sita was Ravana’s daughter. Ravana had foul thoughts towards the princess of Alkapuri, Manivati. Manivati, disgusted with Ravana’s behaviour decided to take revenge. It is believed that she was reborn as the daughter of Ravana and his wife Mandodari. After she was born the wise astrologers of Lanka predicted that she would bring devastation to the empire. The astrologers convinced Ravana to give up his own daughter. He ordered one of his servants to kill the little girl. However, the servant, couldn’t come to terms with killing the little girl. He just buried her in Mithila, where she was found by Janaka.
As per Jain Version of Ramayana
The Jain version simply believes that Sita was born to Ravana and his wife Mandodri. In this version, the astrologers predicted that the first child (irrespective of the gender) of Ravana will end the lineage of Ravana. The rest of the story is the same as claimed by the Uttara Purana.
Now you must be wondering if Ravana is Sita’s father then why did he abduct him?
Ravana’s love for Sita was fatherly love. Even after giving up on her, he kept tab on her. Ravana was happy that she was living a life of a princess and was happy in her own little world. When he came to know about Sita’s swayamvara ceremony, he made it a point to be present. He was happy to see that Sita got married to the valiant Aryan prince Ram of Ayodhya.
All was well until Ram was sent to exile for 14 years.
When Ravana saw Sita living miserly in the jungle, he couldn’t contain his fatherly emotions. He abducted Sita in order to provide her better living. But the act was perceived as the act of vengeance against Ram and Lakshmana for cutting Ravana’s sister’s nose
Daughter or no daughter, Sita indeed was the reason for Ravana’s end.
So if not everything, at least all the predictions of the astrologers came true. I don’t know which version is true but I am glad I am apprised with all the stories floating around the relationship of Sita and Ravana. Now coming to book review of Asura, I would request you read the below review without considering all the above stories that I unveiled. So here you go
“There was no dearth of God in my country. It only lacked men”
Anand Neelakantan (Asura)
Finally done with this book. First things first if a book is as thick as 500+ pages it is very important that the plot and storyline should be intriguing enough to keep you glued all the time. Since the book is based on the life of Ravana (about whom we don’t know much except the fact that he was evil) my expectations were at the peak. But unfortunately, I am disappointed to bits. I had to force myself to finish the book as I didn’t want to leave it in between.
The story is all over the place. The writer seemed confused with how he wanted to portray the protagonist Ravana. In the same paragraph he is shown as an evil monster and in the very next line, his soft and humane side is exaggerated. Even if you want to showcase multiple facet of the character at least stick with the emotion for a while. But that wasn’t the case.
The only revelation I had reading the book was the fact that it claims that Sita was Ravana’s daughter.
I was less amazed and more furious. All my childhood’s Sunday morning was a farce. I need redemption for the whole of my childhood. The book somehow manages to convince you for the father-daughter angle as it later intelligently connects to the story that we have been told all this while. Another aspect that the book unveils is the description of post-war damages from Asura angel. This is important as it makes you understand that it’s the common people who suffer the most, be it Asura army or the Deva army.
The story seemed to be dragged a lot.
It is verbose beyond words. What could have been easily conveyed in 300 pages has been unnecessarily protracted to 500 pages. With a plot so interesting this book could have been so much better. I am not a voracious reader to comment on the writer but the book could have been edited better. Not just words but there were sentences which were repeated so many times across the book. Words like derisive, motley and many more have been used so many times that you wonder if thesaurus was something alien to the editor.